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15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

Addiction is a snake that wraps around your neck, slithering and squeezing you tighter and tighter until you are gasping for air. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, video games, or the computer screen, you stand by helplessly watching your loved one morph into an unrecognizable creature. You are wide-awake in a nightmare.

If you love an addict, you feel as if your life is fading away. You are unable to sleep, eat, work, socialize, or maintain friendships. Nights are spent staring into darkness. Your imagination conjures up scenes of your addict lying in the street, hoping and praying that someone is sober enough to get her (or him) home safely. You are powerless, frustrated, and losing your own life as your loved one spirals deeper and deeper into addiction.

There are many different levels to the wild cycle of addiction. From denial, stealing, lying, and rock bottoms; with promises of change only to bounce back for just one more go round.

While the addict falls into the dungeons of darkness, you are dragged down with him. Everyone suffers.

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There is hope. Once you step back, you will be able to take positive action to get your life in order. Addiction causes chaos and confusion. In order to gain clarity and start your own healing process, ask yourself these questions.

1. What can I do?

Try as hard as you can to get your addict the help he/she needs. After you have exhausted every effort to get your loved one sober, you have to make the decision to live your life. You must take your own life back. It’s a decision you must make and remake daily. You deserve to live. You are still here.

2. How is this affecting the rest of my family and loved ones?

You probably don’t realize it, but there are other people in your life that need you, want you, and miss you. It’s easy to forget everyone else when every breath, step, and heartbeat of yours is being controlled by your addict’s choices.

3. Where’s the closest support group?

Find the closest support group-ASAP! The only person that understands what you are going through is someone who is going through the same thing. Friends try to help. People offer advice, but unless they are in the same situation, their words mean nothing. They do not understand your pain, fear, and helplessness.

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4. Who’s my 3:00 a.m. friend?

Sleepless nights are frightening. You need someone you can call in the middle of the night. Even if you never call her, you need to know that you can. You need someone who will wake up from a deep sleep, hear your voice, sit up and listen to you. Talking is important, but be careful not to become obsessive talking only about your addict. Sometimes the only one there for you at 3:00 a.m. is your Higher Power. No phone calls required.

5. How can I change?

Set a customized program for your day. Structure your life. As the addict needs to structure his, you need to live on a schedule. Having too much free time allows your mind to travel into the dungeon of darkness. Don’t go there. Don’t fall into the trap. Get out of bed, take a walk, go to the gym, pray, listen to podcasts, repeat inspiration mantras throughout the day. 12 step programs are the tried and true effective method for dealing with addiction. However, not everyone responds to them the same. Find the program that works for you and work it! Live it, breathe it, every moment of every day.

6. Will meditation help?

When your thoughts are running wild and your heart is racing, sitting still and focusing your thoughts is the last thing you want to do. You probably want to run away from thoughts, not run into them. Ironically, the process of meditation benefits your negative thoughts, fears, and anxiety.

Meditation has many forms. A daily walk while reciting prayers or words of comfort (mantras work great) is also a form of meditation. Learn to comfort yourself. Have a toolbox of actions to take that will calm you when your heart starts pounding and your mind starts racing. Daily meditation is an exercise for your mind. It is a mind muscle that allows you to control your thoughts.

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7. How is my breathing?

Addiction takes your breath away, literally. You don’t realize that when you spend most of your day worried about where your addict is, what she is doing, and if she’s okay; that you forget to breathe. Learn breathing techniques. QiGong, pranayama, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Thich Nhat Hanh all have easy to follow breathing exercises that work.  If you practice them daily, you will benefit immediately.

8. When was the last time I laughed?

Addiction is also a thief that robs you of all joy, and takes away your smile. One of the simplest joys in life is laughter. Laughter is non-existent. Your smile has disappeared. You can’t remember the last time you had fun.

9. Do I love myself?

Love yourself enough to take back your own life. You deserve to live. You are alive. Start to live again. Separate yourself from your addict. Give the addict his own life to live. You can’t control it. You didn’t cause it. You can’t change it. Learn to detach. It doesn’t mean you are taking your love away. It means you are helpless and the addict has to figure out how to he wants to live his life.

10. What is my role in my addict’s life?

It’s hard to admit but often people who love addicts become addicted to their addict. You think about your loved one every minute of the day and night. You are one. There’s so separation between you. Co-dependency is unhealthy compassion in disguise.

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11. Do I have healthy boundaries?

People who love addicts have a hard time setting limits. Loving, kind people have trouble saying no. They are givers who love passionately. Healthy boundaries are necessary for important decisions that you have to make regarding money, food, and where they will sleep.

12. Is my addict strong enough to survive on his own?

Addicts are slick, smart, strong, and tough. Don’t underestimate an addict’s ability to maneuver through situations. If they can handle addiction, they can handle anything. This is also their strength, their potential for greatness, once they get clean.

13. How do I surrender?

Let it go, all of it. Stop clinging to your dreams, desires, plans and schemes. You don’t know what’s best, even though you think you do. Letting go is a mantra; a chant that gets you through the pain, the fear, and the darkness. Repeat it over and over until you believe it. Let it permeate every cell of your being. Letting go is freedom.

14. What if I don’t have a Higher Power?

Find one. You cannot go through this alone. Whether it’s your religious beliefs or a “power greater than yourself,” you have to have someone to talk to when no one else is there. You have to pray to something and believe that your prayers will be heard. You have to believe that miracles can happen, because they do.

15. Can I survive this?

Yes! You will survive. You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will breathe again. Wake up early, go out and watch the sun rise. Look at the stars and the moon at night. Open your eyes and look around you. See all the people who surround you with love. Hug them, hold on to them. Open up your heart. Love again. Live again.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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